Under the canopy: Gender and forests in Amazonia

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Despite the importance of forests for global processes and the tradition of forest management by local Amazonian peoples, there is not much available literature on gender and forests in the Amazon region. Yet gender roles and relationships are important components of key emerging forest-related issues, such as climate change and the differential risks and opportunities faced by women and men in different contexts. This paper reviews recent literature (in English, Spanish and Portuguese) that addresses gender and forests in Amazonia, focusing on: property rights in Amazonian territories and communities; diverse and changing gender relations; forest management programs; and women's participation in social movements and organizations. The review finds significant historical, sociocultural and material barriers to gender equity and to women's full participation in sustainable management of Amazonian forests, and a relative lack of focus on gender in forest management programs, despite promising examples. The most important finding was that, over the past two decades, women from different Amazonian social groups have become increasingly organized, enhancing their rights, levels of participation and empowerment. More research is needed to understand the variability of gender relations and rights in different Amazonian contexts, and how they are changing. Research is also needed to understand and support efforts to improve gender equity in rights to resources and income and participation in key community and societal decisions on the future of Amazonian forests and their peoples.

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